Over half of Scots would travel abroad for assisted death, if they had the money

New research released by Humanist Society Scotland reveals most Scots would consider the option of travelling abroad to access medical assistance to die currently outlawed in Scotland.

Polling firm Survation asked 1,016 Scottish Adults between 8th and 12th September if they would consider travelling to Switzerland to access a medical assisted death if they were terminally ill or incurably suffering.

The poll asked (full results available here):

If you had a terminal illness, or one which caused you incurable suffering, and you could afford to do so, which of the following statements is closest to your view?
 
I would consider travelling abroad to a country like Switzerland where a doctor could assist me to end my life – 52.9%
 
I would not consider travelling abroad to a country like Switzerland where a doctor could assist me to end my life – 27.8%
 
Don’t know – 19.2%

These results come as the Humanist Society Scotland, Friends at the End and Dignity In Dying come together to support building a movement for assisted dying in Scotland at the annual Humanist conference this month. You can book tickets for this event online.

Commenting on the findings Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland Gordon MacRae said,

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

“Despite the laws against medical assisted dying in Scotland, people can travel to other countries such as Switzerland to access this support.

“These new results show that over half the population would actively consider this as an option. This should raise serious concerns among policy makers that this fast becoming only an option for those who are wealthy enough to afford to travel abroad.”

Amanda Ward, Chief Executive of Friends at the End

Amanda Ward, Chief Executive of the charity Friends at the End who support individuals at the end of their lives said:

“While the statistic that over half would take the choice of assistance to end their life, if they could afford to do so, is unsurprising, what’s more concerning is that almost 20 per cent haven’t yet formed an opinion.

“That suggests to me that there are still people in Scotland who haven’t come across this issue. There remains a lack of knowledge and we need to bring the reality of this to the public’s attention and actively discuss difficult end of life decisions with each other.”

Alyson Thomson, Director for Scotland of campaign group Dignity in Dying said:

Picture of Ally Thomson

Ally Thomson – Director for Scotland Dignity in Dying

“Being terminally ill is tough enough without the constant fear of what the end is going to be like. Dying people deserve better than a law that one which discriminates between the rich and poor and forces people to cut their lives short through fear of not being able to board a plane. The current law is broken. It causes too much pain and suffering for the terminally ill and their families.

“One day people will look back in disbelief at how long it took the Scottish Parliament to realise this. Every eight days someone from the UK travels to Dignitas for help to die. The absence of an assisted dying law forces dying people to take drastic measures to control their death. Scotland is, in effect, outsourcing the needs of dying people.”

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